Central Alberta farmers did “everything correct” when trying to save a starving owl, but their efforts were unsuccessful.
David Luce was working at his family farm, Lucends Ranch in Ponoka, was getting ready to start baling hay when he got a text from his dad, who was working in the field.
“My dad … said there was an (injured) owl out in the field. Of course that takes precedent over everything. I grabbed what I needed to get him out of the field and make sure he’s safe,” said Luce.
Luce wrapped the injured owl in a blanket and put it a box with air holes. He then contacted Medicine River Wildlife Centre, which is a wildlife hospital located near Spruce View.
Carol Kelly, MRWC executive director, said a volunteer was in the area and was able to pick up the bird from the farm.
“Unfortunately it … died,” said Kelly.
“It was an absolutely starved bird. There was not a peck of meat left on him. This happens sometimes if they sustained a bit of a concussion.
“It also could have been that he misplaced his parents and is still too young to be a skilled hunter. If he was misplaced by his parents, got blown away in a storm, and he wasn’t good at hunting he could’ve starved without that parental support.”
Despite the owl dying, Kelly praised the Luce family for their efforts.
“If people can do something as soon as they can find (an injured animal), rather than waiting a day or two … then we have a far better chance of recovery,” said Kelly.
“It’s just like a human. The sooner you get into a hospital, the better chance you have. He put a blanket over it, put it in a box, kept it quiet – all of the rights things someone should do.”
Finding injured animals is not an uncommon occurrence on a farm, Luce explained.
“I’ve rescues two (animals), dad has rescued a couple, my grandpa has rescued a couple. The wildlife centre say they rescue 2,000 animals every year. If you’re out and about as much as we are, you do see them,” he said.
Luce, who recently started a YouTube channel, made a video to capture the animal rescue.
“Agriculture is not just about raising food, it’s about taking care of the environment as well. We participate in it,” he said.
“Living with wildlife is just a part of our life and we must take responsibility for them when they need our help.”